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My wife is Russian, and lives with me in Germany. She has a Russian bank account (denominated in RUB), and a German bank account (denominated in EUR). We have been unable to find a quick, convenient and cheap way to transfer money from her Russian account to her German account. Currently we're keeping our finances mostly separate, but the question would still be relevant if we had a shared bank account.

Her Russian bank's app doesn't seem to have any way to transfer to SEPA region accounts. She plans to speak to somebody at a branch of her bank next time she is in Russia, but with the current travel restrictions we have no idea when that will be. I'm British and have always used transferwise to transfer money from my UK account to my German account, but it doesn't offer RUB->EUR (although the other way around works).

Our current system is:

  • she withdraws EUR from her Russian account at a cash machine (including a small but non-trivial conversion fee)
  • she gives me the cash
  • I do a bank transfer from my German account to her German account.

This is plainly ridiculous; there must be a better way. But we haven't found one. How can we quickly, cheaply And easily transfer money from the Russian account to the German account?

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  • In your current system, why does she have to give you the cash -- why can't she deposit the cash directly into her own German account? Or is it just that you have a need for cash and this as good as any other way of getting it? – nanoman May 28 '20 at 22:49
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    @nanoman good question. She opened her German account with N26, to avoid the monthly fees most banks charge here. But they have a 1.5% fee on cash deposits (which admittedly Is not much, but… more than the effective 0% with the current way) – Chris H May 29 '20 at 4:51
  • Why doesn't she close the Russian account and move all the money to the German account. If her income is being sent to the Russian account can the income be directed to her German account? – mhoran_psprep May 29 '20 at 12:05
  • Related: law.stackexchange.com/q/56130 – Rodrigo de Azevedo Sep 10 '20 at 15:46
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No, there isn't a cheaper way to convert Rubles to Euro.

Currently, Russia bank deposit rates is reduced to 4.3%, but it is still few hundred percent way higher than European bank 0.01% ~0.1% interest rate. To prevent Euro depositor to put term deposit into Russia and withdraw it afterwards, Russia has imposed a hefty conversion rates e.g. 5%++.

If both of you really "cost cautions" over the conversion rates, it is better to seek a middle ground. e.g.

  • Keep a book on the expenses when you visit Russia, split the expenses on a agree rates between both of you.
  • Keep spending in Russia with your wife rubles
  • Agree on the rates that both of your agree on the "common expenses".

You will be able to save more than 5% of the cost of conversion from middleman. In addition, you may also take advantages of high Euro exchange rates against Rubles and deposit to your wife account, which give you 10% more rubels compare to early of the year (as long as Russia inflation rates is not higher than 5%).

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It might be useful to use Paypal, if it is possible to link a PP account to a Russian bank account, she can send you the money via PP and you can send it to her by whatever means which seems useful.

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  • Ideally she could send it to herself, otherwise it's not really an improvement. I seem to remember running into difficulties when trying to send a transaction to myself (UK->GER or vice versa) with PayPal a few years ago, but it might be an option. – Chris H May 29 '20 at 8:23

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